Tim Farley: That is President Obama speaking to Charlie Rose on CBS the other day, talking about that 28 pages thus far redacted from the 9/11 report and what it means, now this all in the context of his visit to Saudi Arabia. It's kind of complicated, because we wanted to get into it. We are welcoming back to the show Congressman Pete Hoekstra, former Congressman, former Chair of the Intelligence Committee, which is I think the job he had when the 9/11 report came out. He is now a Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He tweets @petehoekstra. Congressman, welcome back. Thanks for being here today.
Pete Hoekstra: Always good to be with you. Thank you. Good morning.
Farley: What do we need to know as just Americans about this 28 pages? What kinds of things? And I understand some of this is redacted, but I'm guessing you have more access and have had more access in the past to this than obviously the average Joe. So give us a sense of what we're talking about.
Hoekstra: Well, you know, it's still classified information, so I really can't get into it in any kind of a detail. My belief on this is that the information in there is not national security sensitive. It's now 13, 14 years past when that report came out. There may be a couple of specific items that relate to sources and methods that can be redacted, but other than that, I believe it's time to let this information become public.
Farley: The question now obviously that people are asking, and there's actually some disagreement even within the party of Republicans of whether or not to allow legislation go through the Senate which would enable the survivors of victims of 9/11 to, for example, sue Saudi Arabia. Would this information have any at all effect on that kind of legislation? I know that as Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, said the other day there's nothing in the 9/11 Report that in any way implicates Saudi Arabia.
Hoekstra: No, I don't think it would change the impact of that legislation. The legislation that's working its way through the Senate and trying to I think get started in the House, basically just makes some fine tuning to current law under what circumstances U.S. citizens can sue sovereign states, and it makes it more clear that state sponsors of terrorism can be held responsible. So I think it's appropriate legislation. It's a fine-tuning of current legislation. It's not a whole-scale opening up or rewrite of U.S. law having international implications. It's just standard clear-cut new legislation, minor technical corrections reflecting the kind of world we live in today.
Farley: There's a Democratic Congressman by the name of Steven Lynch from Massachusetts who says that he believes, "Having read those 28 pages, I think it's to allow individuals to escape accountability; that's why they are still classified." Would you agree or disagree with that?
Hoekstra: You know it's been a long time since I've seen those 28 pages. I don't think it's necessarily to avoid accountability. You know there may be some sensitivities and those types of things involved. I don't look at those and remember those 28 pages as being something that if made public are going to be earth-shattering and you know you and others are going to look at it and say – wow, this totally changes my opinion and things that I have learned and understood since 9/11. I think for most people it will be kind of – oh, alright, why was this kept secret so long?
Farley: Once again, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra is with us. He is now a Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. We're talking about that 9/11 report. And to the general context and question about what is classified, what is not classified information, in this presidential campaign much has been made of what Hillary Clinton did or did not have on a private server, whether or not it should or should not have been classified, whether or not it was Secret, Top Secret, or not. It seems to me we have varying levels of confidence in the designation given to a lot of the documents that are stored and are kept secret by the government. And I wonder if maybe it needs to be reevaluated at some point, because almost every day it seems we're hearing someone say it seems – well you know but, well even the president said you know there's classified and there's classified. Speak to that general issue if you could.
Hoekstra: Well a couple of things, Tim. Number one, and Jane Harman and I agreed, she was the Ranking Democrat on Intelligence, and we worked together very, very well, and there were a number of things that we agreed on, and one of the other things that we agreed on was that there's way too much classification of information as Secret or Top Secret, stuff that we believe should be readily in the hands of the American people and that they should have access to see, we would, it would come across our desk as Secret or Top Secret, meaning we were very limited in what we could talk about and how we would, could discuss these kinds of issues. So we were for much more transparency and openness. But the bottom line is the law is the law, and when stuff came across our desk we could argue about whether something should be classified or not, but that was never in our scope of authority to change the classification. And the rules and the law are very clear about how you handle that kind of information. And I do think if Jane or I or others had handled classified information in the way that it appears Hillary Clinton handled classified information, we'd probably we walking around in orange jumpsuits. We would have had charges filed against us. You know it's very, very clear, they, you, people who are entrusted with security clearances have a responsibility to keep information secret and classified even if they disagree with the classification of a particular document.
Farley: It does sound like what you're saying though is that while she may have run afoul of what you would consider to be proper procedure, it likely was not something that would endanger the U.S.
Hoekstra: Again, I don't have the specifics of exactly what information she didn't handle appropriately, and but remember, when someone puts a classification on there of Secret or Top Secret, there is somebody in the government that believes that the release of that information would jeopardize our national security, even though there may have been others of us that would have disagreed with that assessment.
Hoekstra: Hey, thank you, you too.
Farley: Alright, former Chair Congressman Pete Hoekstra, former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is now a Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. And he tweets @petehoekstra.